James hits out at 'disgraceful' Sharks
May 6, 2010
Butch James staying at Bath after deal to return home fell through © Getty Images
Fly-half Butch James has claimed that "the disgraceful way" negotiations were handled ended his hopes of returning to the Sharks. The Springbok World Cup-winner has now decided to stay with Bath rather than return to South Africa.
James said a deal had almost been completed in March only for it to fall through at the last minute. Bath had reportedly demanded a transfer fee to compensate them for the loss of the outside-half who has two more seasons on his contract at the Rec to run.
"I'm not too sure where it broke down, but it was pretty embarrassing for me," he told The Bath Chronicle. "I think the Sharks were pretty disgraceful in how they handled the whole thing. I can't have any moans with Bath - they were open to an offer. But the Sharks were pretty embarrassing in how they handled it. It put me in a funny situation. They had been chasing me since January and I eventually followed my heart and said 'Let me give it one more go'.
"They made the initial chase and in the end it fell through, so it made me look like a bit of an idiot over here with my club and my team-mates. All of a sudden the Sharks closed the door. They almost said everything was in place and it was almost 90 per cent that I was going to go home. Then they pulled the rug from under my feet. I'm not too happy about it."
The 31-year-old said he wanted to return to his old province in an effort to regain his place in the Springbok squad. He still believes he has a chance of playing in the forthcoming games this June, but said he had to prove his durability at Bath, having returned from a fifth knee operation in February.
"I wanted to go home so I could give the Springboks another go, but I'll just have to try to make it from Bath. I think it will be pretty difficult to make it from here. That's how I understand it. The coach [Peter De Villiers] wanted me to be playing back at home but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm here and I'll have to give it a go. I don't think the door is ever closed. I'll just play my best for Bath. That's all I can do - the rest will be left in other people's hands."
Sharks chief executive Brian van Zyl has hit back strongly at James' claims, insisting that the players' demands were 'ridiculous'.
"We were not prepared to pay a transfer fee, because we weren't paid one when Butch went to Bath," Van Zyl told sport24. "What is also strange is that Butch indicated how much he'd like to play for the Sharks again, but then extended his contract with Bath for another two years. He also wanted to be paid a ridiculous amount of money to return to Durban."